I want you to hear my story. Not because my story is any different, or any better than any one else's story, but because it's mine. It is a special story to me, and I want to share it with you. Let me start at the beginning...
I was born in a hospital, like most other children, but I didn't have a happy family waiting in the maternity ward for me like the others. I was alone, lying in a Plexiglas crib, crying my head off because I knew I was different. Babies don't think much, so I suppose it was something I just felt. I didn't stay alone for too long, because a few days after I was born, I was picked up from the hospital and taken to a home with adults who made funny noises in my direction and did things most adults would be ashamed to do in public. I didn't mind though. I could tell I was no longer alone.
I grew up. I was fairly normal in that respect. Everyone grows up, has birthdays, and ages daily. Looking back, I wish I had focused on that aspect of my life rather than this one... the one that haunts me to this day. I am different. Not the good different either, the one where you never feel like you fit in, that you're a bright yellow triangle on a red circle puzzle. Not really out of place, just... misplaced.
As far back as I can remember, my family made it a point to tell me I was adopted. “Your biological mother...”, “You're lucky you aren't really part of this family because...”, “You aren't really a [insert family name here, any name will do]...” It always stopped me dead in my tracks and my heart dropped to the floor. And in case your wondering, yes, it got bruised every time. Never did make much difference where I was standing. I'd pick it back up, shove it back in my chest, and pretend everything was ok. Of course I knew I should have been happy with whatever they were saying, they weren't being mean, just making a matter-of-fact statement. But it hurt. I collect hurt, you see, so this was the start of a bad thing. I continued to grow. As I grew, so did that hurt. It turned into anger, which branched off into fear, and then turned back into anger.
Nothing began making sense. Things I would see my friends and their families doing never happened at my house. I never had people say how much I looked like great-aunt so-and-so, nor did they refrain from the quiet comments about how I wasn't really family. Honestly, I love my family, I do. But they weren't mine. They hadn't been left in the Plexiglas crib to ponder on how “alone” actually felt. It stung.
Have you heard the saying that those who are hurt lash out at those they know care the most about them? It's true. Don't just take my word for it though...
When I was about nine years old, the immense differences between me and my parents became obvious. I wasn't comfortable around them. Hugging and kissing them felt weird. I didn't feel like I was home... to be honest, I didn't know what home should have felt like. I began to lash out, and all that anger and fear came pouring out of me like a faucet. But it didn't go away, it would gather up some of its friends and come back. Most of my childhood is a blur, but that's a story for another day. I do, however, very clearly recall denouncing my family name and becoming a solitary child, alone again, and feeling so very, very different. I knew that I had hurt my family, but I felt I needed to in order to make a statement. I am still not sure what that statement was, but it set me on the path to one day find out.
I am twenty seven and I still am learning exactly what that statement was.
My anger, pain, fear, and rage now lived quite contentedly inside me. We got along swimmingly and most times, I was able to keep it from bubbling out over the general populous. Until I got my license. Road rage is so much more fun when you feel you have a reason to be angry about everything.
It wasn't working though. My outlets for my emotions hurt, and nothing I did could make it stop. A ghost of my past piped in, very much without permission, and pointed out that my pain was driving my life, and that if I didn't just let it go, it would ruin me. That stopped me dead in my tracks. I hate when ghosts are right. Who gave them that authority? So, I began to look at myself. Not just in the mirror, but sat and really took a good look inside me. Past all the guts and goo, but into where that anger and pain hid.
It was there because of that Plexiglas crib so long ago in the hospital ward when I realized I had no family. I began to realize that it was me versus everyone else, and I had to win to show them I could make it just like everyone else who had a family. You know what though? I missed the whole point of being adopted. The other babies in the room with me were stuck with whatever parents they got. If they were alcoholics, they had to live with that. If they were obnoxious, pretentious air-heads, they had to live with that. Not me though! (Boy, when I figured this out, I felt like the biggest dummy in the world.) MY family PICKED me. We weren't just stuck with each other. They picked me because they LIKED me... and that turned into LOVE. I was the lucky one lying there in that Plexiglas crib, not the other crying mouths around me. HA! So maybe it was a good different after all.
You know what happened when I realized that I got my family because they chose ME and not some other kid? All that pain, anger, fear, and rage suddenly, and quite loudly disappeared. It was like having a fat dog sit on your stomach for so long you forget it's there, and when it gets up to eat dinner, you feel lighter and you can breathe.
So, I got to thinking about all those comments about me not really being part of the family... and I thought, y'know... that's ok. Because you, my dear family, were generally talking about some hereditary disease that I won't get. Granted, I still come with quirks of my own, but they are my quirks... not OUR quirks. I like having my own set of quirks.
Sure, I still feel angry sometimes for no reason, but I suppose that is the downside to adoption. There are still voices that try to tell you that no one wanted you, that no one cares. But once I realized that I was the kid who found her way out of a potentially bad situation, it becomes a lot easier to tell that voice just where exactly it can shove it. And it makes me smile too. Not the smile hiding the bruised little heart, but a smile that starts somewhere deep inside me and bubbles up.
So this was my story. I just wanted to share it with you, because you never know when you'll run into another kid like me. And really, we don't mean it if we're mean and angry.... we just are hung up about that baby in the Plexiglas crib in the hospital ward who just realized they were totally alone...